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National Restaurant Association - Brennan attributes success to his employees

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Brennan attributes success to his employees


The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation feted the industry’s future Saturday at a milestone event — the 25th anniversary of the organization and its Salute to Excellence awards program.
Carlton Curtis, NRAEF chairman and vice president of industry relations for the Coca-Cola Co., said big strides have been made in 25 years, but there is more to accomplish, especially with the ProStart program.
“For the first time ever, last year we sought to raise $3 million in support of the ProStart program and I can tell you we have already raised $2 million toward that goal,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve still got a long way to go, but we need to get it done and get it done now. We can’t stand by and not provide the funds students and teachers need to grow this amazing program."


After Curtis’ remarks, Ted Balestreri, chairman of the Monterey Wine Educational Foundation, presented the NRAEF chairman with a check for $100,000 in support of ProStart.

The NRAEF also saluted Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach, Calif., which won this year's National ProStart Invitational management and culinary competitions. In addition, Ann Taylor and Benjie Apodaca, ProStart instructors at Silverado High School in Las Vegas, and Taos High School in Taos, N.M., were named winners of the James Maynard Excellence in Education award.

Balestreri and his business partner Bert Cutino, a director of the California Culinary Academy, along with Ferdinand Metz, co-owner of Ferdinand Metz Culinary Innovations, presented Newport Harbor student Jasmin Eck with a full scholarship to CCA.Eck’s culinary future was in doubt after her family suffered tough economic times and couldn’t afford to pay for her education.

The NRAEF ended the night by saluting the career of renowned New Orleans restaurateur and former NRA chairman Ralph Brennan. Brennan, this year’s winner of the Thad and Alice Eure Ambassador of Hospitality award, strode up to the podium to accept his award amid the strains of “When the Saints Go Marching In” and the mass distribution of Mardi Gras beads.

Brennan thanked his family and employees for helping him achieve his goals.
“This is not about me; it’s about we,” he said. “We have 495 employees and I couldn’t do it without them. They are the reason I am standing here today.”

NRA chairwoman Sally Smith, president and chief executive of Buffalo Wild Wings, congratulated the NRAEF and winners on their achievements. “It is truly an honor to support the work of the ProStart program,” she said. “Congratulations to all who won tonight … Cheers to another 25 years of excellence.”

Salute to Excellence is the NRAEF's premier fundraising event for scholarships and the ProStart program. It takes place each year on the opening night of the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

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